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Loretta Lynn Sues Over Rights to Songs

Country singer Loretta Lynn (search) is trying to gain the copyright to "Coal Miner's Daughter" and other of her hit songs.

In a lawsuit filed this week in Chancery Court, Lynn asks a judge to void a contract she signed with Sure-Fire Music Co. (search) in 1966 awarding the company copyrights to her songs.

The complaint says the company's ownership changes should give Lynn the rights to the music.

The company has the rights to 114 songs written or co-written by Lynn, including "You're Lookin' at Country," "You Ain't Woman Enough" and the 1969 tune that became her signature song, "Coal Miner's Daughter." (search

Sure-Fire was owned in 1966 by Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, who as the Wilburn Brothers were one of the most celebrated brother duos in country music. Both are now dead, and Teddy Wilburn's estate is the subject of a family fight in Probate Court in Nashville.

Lynn says in the suit that a contract she had with Sure-Fire gave her the right to terminate the agreement if ownership of the company changed hands.

"The music industry is built on relationships, and Loretta Lynn had a long one with Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, the original managers of Sure-Fire Music Co.," the singer's manager, Nancy Russell, said in a statement. "Sure-Fire enjoyed the benefits of Loretta's success as a songwriter and entertainer for more than 40 years. Sadly, as we all know, Teddy and Doyle are no longer at the helm of Sure-Fire."

Doyle Wilburn died in 1982, and his brother Teddy died last November.

Lynn met the Wilburn brothers while promoting her first album in Nashville. At the time, they were a top country group running a music enterprise and having both a syndicated TV show and a touring act.

She entered into a series of business agreements with the brothers in 1961 and signed an exclusive songwriter's agreement with Sure-Fire, according to the suit. While forming those agreements, Lynn had no independent representation and was represented by the same attorney who represented Sure-Fire, the lawsuit says.

Officials with Sure-Fire did not return a phone message left in their office.